With the nomination of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as the next DHS Secretary now official, I decided to put together another posting about prospective candidates for the ‘other tough jobs’ at DHS and who might be good choices to fill them. While the Secretary may lead the Department of 200,000+ on a daily basis and be the voice and face for leading and communicating major events and threats whenever and wherever they occur, they can not do the job alone. Besides the immediate support staff and advisors that circle the Secretary, there are other senior leaders that the Secretary and the Nation will look to for leadership and action in a number of critical areas. I’ve already listed what I think are the Top 10 positions to be filled at the Department (exclusive of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary) and after posting my initial blog on prospective candidates for DHS Secretary, I was encouraged by the feedback I got to give it another go around. So here it goes…

I’ve applied the same rules as I did with my first piece on prospective candidates for DHS Secretary – Criteria Number One being – “Can they do the job on the most challenging day imaginable?”

I’m sure any one of the individuals I list (and others who I don’t) can do the job on a ‘good day.’ It’s the ‘bad days’ that we have to worry about and I want to know whether someone can handle the stress and perform under the relentless pressure and incoming fire from the media, Congress, the public and even DHS personnel.

In identifying these prospective senior DHS leaders, I also made a conscious effort to select them regardless of whatever political party preference they might have. I honestly do not know what their political preferences are and I’m not going to inquire about them either. Homeland security is not a Republican job or a Democrat job. It is an American job, and I believe that Secs. Ridge and Chertoff as well as many other DHS leaders (political appointees and career personnel) have conducted themselves in just that manner. I’m more than confident that the names I offer and those eventually selected to fill the very senior posts will do the same.

I also have not listed these names in any particular order. The names I offer are simply my two cents on a number of distinguished people who I believe have the backgrounds and skills necessary to succeed in some of the toughest jobs in America.

Erroll Southers, Assistant Chief Airport Police; Intelligence & Counter-Terrorism – Los Angeles World Airports; Associate Director, Homeland Security Center for Risk & Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), University of Southern California
• There are some people you meet in life and wonder how they do it all and do it all really well. Then there is Erroll Southers who seems to do it all exceptionally well and then impress beyond that metric. As the lead for Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism operations for one of the country’s (and world’s) primary terrorist targets (Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)), Erroll Southers has had to work with political, economic, transportation, commercial and other public and private sector interests to prepare and protect one of our country’s most important and visible infrastructures. If this environment wasn’t hostile or demanding enough, he added one more to his daily routine – academia in the form of another ‘day job’ as the Associate Director to USC’s CREATE – the first designated DHS Center of Excellence. His resume as a USC Professor; former Santa Monica Police Department detective; former FBI Special Agent; former FBI SWAT Team member; former Deputy Director of the State of California’s Office of Homeland Security (specializing in infrastructure protection issues); and weightlifting buddy of a former Mr. Universe and current CA Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger would make 24’s Jack Bauer appear to be a lazy underachiever. Regardless of where he’s been, it’s the track record that matters and Southers’ performance every where he’s been has been nothing but positive and impressive. Having him work nationally will undoubtedly extend his contributions and success further.

John Paczkowski, Deputy Director, Public Safety for Emergency Management, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
• There is no public or private sector enterprise in America that understands the personal and professional consequences of terrorism better than the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ). Having lost nearly two hundred employees and billions of dollars due to the destruction and disruption of their expansive operations and facilities as a result of four separate terrorist attacks (JFK bombing in the 1970’s; 1993 WTC bombing; and 9/11 attacks on WTC 1 and WTC 2), the PANYNJ knows the burdens and costs of having being in the crosshairs of killers. Their challenges are only exacerbated when you realize the daily challenges the Port Authority encounters in dealing with the weather and every day disruptions that come from operating the largest port (airport, cargo/shipping, rail, etc.) east of the Mississippi. One of the people charged with making sure the Port Authority is ready to deal with all of those challenges is John Paczkowski, the PANYNJ’s Deputy Director for Emergency Management. The retired Marine Corps Colonel (who established the USMC’s Emergency Preparedness Liaison Program) is one of the most important voices in the greater NY/NJ area when it comes to the sustainability and resilience of the region. He understands the balance that public and private sectors must have in shaping plans and executing responses for multiple threats and scenarios. While others may talk about ‘risk,’ Paczkowski has been one of its foremost students sharing his insights before Congress as a Committee witness; DHS and the region. He and his team are also unheralded heroes from the 2005 Katrina disaster that shut down the Port of New Orleans and the City as well. Loading up their gear, spare equipment and available personnel, Paczkowski and his team arrived in New Orleans shortly after storm had passed and immediately got to work getting the Port’s facilities back on line and reopened for operations. When they were done with that, they crossed back over the Mississippi River and built the City of New Orleans a make-shift Emergency Operations Center in the Hyatt Hotel which allowed the Crescent City to begin its response and recovery operations. They never received as much of a thank you for their efforts either but they didn’t go into this business for ‘thank yous.’ Paczkowski and his team went into this line of work to make a difference and they do that every day.

Jason Jackson, Director of Emergency Management, Global Security Division, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
• While Hurricane Katrina may have revealed some of our nation’s frailties and shortcomings in dealing with large-scale disasters, it also revealed the enormous capacity and impact that the private sector could bring to bear in addressing such an event. There were a number of companies that truly distinguished themselves during those difficult days and weeks but probably none more so than Wal-Mart. As Fortune Magazine’s Number One ranked enterprise, Wal-Mart is used to being on top and being a game changer and Jason Jackson, Wal-Mart’s Director of Emergency Management showed the world that the Bentonville, Arkansas company was at the top of the heap in emergency management as well. The former Arkansas State Trooper turned corporate officer was one of the best friends the States of Louisiana and Mississippi could have ever asked for as led the coordination of over 2,400 truckloads of water, ice, food and other supplies being delivered into the disaster areas. If Jason’s and his team’s efforts weren’t already impressive enough in providing urgently needed supplies to shelters and devastated communities, they were also working to bring the various Wal-Mart stores that had been closed because of evacuations or destruction back on line so as to get them back to business. Needless to say, Jason’s leadership of the Wal-Mart Emergency Management Team has made him and his company the ‘top of the heap’ when it comes to private sector leadership in business continuity and resilience. As a result, Wal-Mart enjoys almost unparalleled attention and recognition from public and private sector leaders that want to learn from and replicate their success. In demand as a speaker in front of emergency management audiences; business continuity groups; business schools; community organizations and more; Jackson is an ‘A-list’ leader in emergency management and is someone to watch as his contributions to his company and our country have only just begun. What else can you say for a guy who outranked Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) in Details Magazine 2005 Top 50 Most Powerful Guys under 39? He was Ranked 29th.

Scott McCallum, President & CEO, AidMatrix Foundation, former Governor of Wisconsin
• One of the silver linings of any disaster, large or small is the outpouring of generosity coming from the average citizen or the local or national company looking to help ease the suffering and impacts of whatever tragedy has unfolded. As generous as this outpouring can be, it can also become a logistical and public relations nightmare when a local community or State or Federal agency does not know how to manage or deal with these assets. Instead of being a relief, such items and supplies can become an extraordinary burden. Enter AidMatrix, led by former Wisconsin Governor, Scott McCallum which can handle the coordination and management of these resources allowing emergency managers and other response and recovery personnel to focus on other pressing needs. Under McCallum’s leadership, AidMatrix has been able to forge agreements with FEMA as well as 33 US States as part of its National Donations Management Program. The 501 (c) 3, not-for-profit corporation has been able to link other not-for-profits that serve communities with donated resources. As a result, more relief for communities and populations in need is put into action, rather than sitting in a warehouse unused and unmobilized. McCallum and AidMatrix have addressed one of the biggest challenges outlined by the critics and investigators that examined FEMA’s and the nation’s performance following the September 11th attacks and the 2005 Hurricanes. AidMatrix’s ability to leverage over 35,000 partners has allowed it to touch more than 65 million people worldwide putting over $1.5Billion in play when and where it is desperately needed. As a former Governor, McCallum knows how communities depend upon a state to provide assistance in an hour of need but in his new guise, he is able to help those communities with even more help than he ever had as the Chief Executive of the 30th State.

Ellis Stanley, Lead – Los Angeles Project Office, Dewberry Inc., former Director of Emergency Management for the City of Denver, CO/2008 Democratic National Convention; former General Manager of Emergency Preparedness for the City of Los Angeles, CA; former Director of Emergency Management for the City of Atlanta, GA/1996 Centennial Olympics
• If you can think of the major events and happenings that have occurred in American life over the past twenty-five years from Super Bowls, Political Conventions, Olympic Games, Papal Visits, World Series as well as earthquakes, floods, fires and terror attacks, Ellis Stanley has had some role in planning, managing or responding to them. His resume of experience has had him involved in the planning, operations and response for all of the events that I just mentioned, as well as more that are far too long to list. One of the most approachable people you can meet, Stanley has been able to come into numerous situations where organizations are struggling to plan, prepare and respond only to turn them around to make them an absolute success. He proved that this year when he was brought into help the City of Denver to help their struggling preparations for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. As its Acting Director of Emergency Management, Stanley worked with the City’s leadership, the US Secret Service, regional public safety leaders and Convention organizers to pull off an event that was problem-free and executed without significant disruptions or problems. His collaborative leadership style has won him numerous admirers from notable public officials to junior level staff and this has all been possible in some of the most highly charged media and political environments possible. His willingness to share the lessons learned (of what works and what doesn’t) with anyone who will listen also makes him one of our country’s greatest teachers in emergency management. That is just one of the reasons he was selected as a Fellow with the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) and Member of FEMA’s first National Advisory Council.

John Copenhaver, President & CEO, Disaster Recovery International; former Regional Administrator, FEMA Region IV
• John Copenhaver’s background in emergency management is different from many of his peers in the field. Whereas most emergency managers start their careers with a government agency in some form, his begins in the private sector with AT&T followed by stints at BellSouth as well as IBM. At one time, some may have questioned the credibility and character of that route in the field of emergency management but that path has led him to become one of the leading, if not most practical voices in emergency management today. Before it was fashionable and part of the every day vernacular to talk about the role of the private sector in emergency management (and subsequently homeland security), Copenhaver was putting such relationships into practice in FEMA’s Region IV (Southeast US) where he served as Administrator to the Agency’s largest region and by far one of the most disaster active in the country. With hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, ice storms, fires and more regularly occurring in the area, Copenhaver brought programs such as “FEMA/BellSouth Project Impact Executive Summit” which brought together senior officers of 150 corporations and senior government officers (Governors and Presidential Cabinet Officers) to formulate policies and strategies to create more disaster-resistant communities throughout America. Following his tenure as FEMA Region IV Administrator, Copenhaver has continued to push for greater dialogue between private and public sectors to improve information sharing, disaster planning and response and business continuity practices. In his current position as President & CEO of the Disaster Recovery Institute, he has been one of the most knowledgeable and authoritative voices on the impacts and implementation of Title IX Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Standards Program that DHS and FEMA are putting forward. His career foundations in the private sector have made him in many ways the new prototype for emergency management leaders – someone who understands the talk, walk and bottom-line of the corporate boardroom as well as policies, regulations and political atmosphere of the public sector.

Courtney Banks, CEO, National Security Associates Worldwide; former Vice-President for Homeland Security for Raytheon Corporation
• Sharp, decisive, focused and driven describe Courtney Banks. With significant experiences and successful track records in the corporate and the public service worlds, Banks has proven to be very adept at understanding the intricacies of policies, programs and politics in the arenas of national and homeland security. No one can successfully survive in environments such as the Pentagon, the Justice Department, Capital Hill or the White House as well as the national and international corporate arena with out the skills that she brings to the table. Her ability to focus on core issues and problems and address them head on, rather than go around them is impressive and her track record of over $1Billion in business for Raytheon as well as a senior appointee during the Clinton Administration proves it. Today she is applying these core strengths and experiences to her own enterprise, National Security Associates Worldwide matching its corporate clients to national and international opportunities in the national and homeland security marketplaces.

Maria Luisa O’Connell, President, Border Trade Alliance
• In her ten years of leadership of the Border Trade Alliance (BTA), Maria Luisa O’Connell has brought a valuable voice and perspective to the economics and impacts of the policies and programs associated with the US border and the trade that extends far beyond it. A native born Columbian, Ms. O’Connell has worked tirelessly to bring a broader understanding and perspective to the role that trade and border communities have upon the life and well being of the US economy and the economies external to the US that are interdependent on ours. Her alliances with commercial partners (transportation and shipping interests, etc.) as well state, local and regional governments can not be easily ignored. The interests that she brings to the table are often the ones that been overlooked or disregarded in the past but her ability to mobilize the BTA’s partners has made DHS and its components (particularly CBP) take notice before fully implementing efforts in any number of areas. Her positive touch to what are often very contentious and inflammatory issues is as refreshing as it is rewarding for those that work with her.

Paul Schneider, Deputy Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security
• Every Transition Team often falls victim to the behavior of looking outside the department or agency it is transitioning for talent to help lead it into the future. It is my hope that the DHS Transition Team at work now will pause in the midst of their work and see that they have a very significant talent and resource in its current Deputy Secretary, Paul Schneider. The retired civil servant (US Navy and National Security Agency) was coaxed back into government service in 2007 to take over as the DHS Under Secretary of Management Directorate. The words turn-around do not adequately describe his performance in righting the Department’s ship in these often and always maligned areas. Leadership, performance metrics, respect and most importantly ‘management’ came to the Under Secretary position bringing about calm and clarity to what can only be described previously as confusion and chaos. When the Deputy Secretary position opened and he was elevated by Secretary Chertoff to serve in an Acting capacity, a collective sigh of relief (and applause) were observed by persons inside DHS, as well as by Congress and others outside of the Department. His full nomination and confirmation as the Department’s fourth Deputy Secretary earlier this year have only solidified his contributions to five year old Department. Schneider has brought new found respect, cooperation, metrics and improved performance to the position and become its true Chief Operating Officer. He has also shown his willingness to push back on the critics of the Department, notably Congress with facts, not rhetoric when accusations and overzealous behavior start to fly. Who else could tell Congress with a straight face that the Department’s Headquarters facilities were a “dump”? He did and remarkably Congress shut up after he told them like it really is. Schneider, along with current DHS Under Secretary Elaine Duke and John Acton, (RADM, USCG, ret), DHS’ Director of Presidential Transition have also led DHS’ Transition efforts ensuring that senior career personnel are in position and ready and able to serve as senior political appointees leave their posts in January. He has been the absolute right man at the right time for DHS and the Department is much improved today as a result of his distinguished service. He would be a great asset to the Obama Administration and the incoming Secretary and I hope that he will be able to continue to serve for some time.

Elaine Duke, Under Secretary for Management, US Department of Homeland Security
• Like her predecessor in the Under Secretary of Management (Paul Schneider), Elaine Duke is also a career civil servant whose skills and talents caught the attention of the current Administration. As one of the people who helped stand up the Department in late 2002 and early 203, she is a veteran of some of the tough decisions and challenges that continue to garner so much attention. When Paul Schneider was elevated to be the Acting Deputy Secretary, she stepped into the role of Acting Under Secretary of Management following through on many of the improvements started by Schneider while implementing some of her own ideas as well. As a result, the calm and improved performance out of the Management Directorate started under Schneider was continued and expanded under her. Given the challenge of continuing to integrate the various personnel, procurement and operational systems that still cross the Department five years after it was formed, that is no easy accomplishment but she’s made a difference for the better. She has operated without political agenda and focused on the jobs at hand making improved performance her ultimate metric. As one of the lead points for the Department’s Presidential Transition efforts, she, along with Dep. Sec. Schneider and RADM Acton have ensured that senior career personnel are in place and ready to keep the Department operating throughout the leadership handoff as the new President and his team take over.

Jim Williams, Acting Administrator, General Services Administration, former Director US VISIT
• When Jim Williams departed DHS as the Director of its US VISIT (Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) Program for the General Services Administration (GSA) to serve as its Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, everyone new the Department had lost one its brightest stars. His tenure in building and launching the US VISIT Program gave the Department one of its earliest (and still on-going) successes. He carried that record of performance over to GSA bringing with him fresh energy, ideas and drive that have helped the Agency become a better performer for the US government departments and agencies that use its services; the companies that contract with them; and the taxpayers whose dollars make it all possible. A career civil servant with experience at the IRS as well as GSA (early in his career), Williams’ record of good governance has earned him the wide respect of both sides of the political aisles as well as those who have worked with him and for him. His elevation as the Acting Administrator of GSA in the Summer of 2008 has allowed him to share his leadership and management skills on a higher and much broader level. Unfortunately the political gamesmanship by some in the US Senate has prevented him from getting the full GSA Administrator position. Regardless of those follies, Jim Williams remains a solid performer at every place that has been fortunate to have him on its team.

Emily Walker, Member, DHS’ Private Sector Advisory Council, former banking executive; former Professional Staff Member – 9/11 Commission
• While the subject of business continuity existed prior to the attacks of September 11th, it did not really garner much attention until after the tragic events of seven years ago. If you had to point to one person who made the recognition of this subject matter change, you’d have to point to Emily Walker. The successful banking executive was in the World Trade Center in NYC when it was struck by aircraft that morning and while she knew the events of that day had changed her and her and the rest of the world, she decided to take action. Loaned by her employer, CitiGroup to the 9/11 Commission, Ms. Walker served as a Professional Staff Member to the Commission working as a liaison to the families of those killed in the attacks. In working with them as well as those who were fortunate to escape the towers prior to their collapse, she had heard several refrains time and again, “We didn’t know how to get out,” “We never had a plan for anything like this,” and “We didn’t know what to do.” Recognizing the failures that had been shared with her, Emily took on the issue of business preparedness and brought it to the attention of the 9/11 Commissioners for consideration. The Commissioners agreed with her and as a result of her efforts, the 9/11 Commission put forward in its Final Report its recommendation that DHS and the nation endorse NFPA 1600 as a voluntary preparedness standard for use by the private sector and other enterprises. In their words, “Private-sector preparedness is not a luxury; it is a cost of doing business in the post-9/11 world. It is ignored at a tremendous potential cost in lives, money, and national security.” Some might consider that achievement as a successful end point. Not Emily. She has continued to push for greater corporate leadership and awareness on preparedness and business continuity issues and her subsequent work with international banking, the UN World Food Programme, international disaster relief and more have made her one of the most powerful and significant voices on this subject.

Dr. Richard “Dick” Andrews, Senior Director for Homeland Projects – NC4; Member, DHS’ Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC); Member, FEMA’s National Advisory Council; former Director for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for the State of California
• Every state has its share of disasters and emergency events, but then there is California which seems to have something happening on an almost daily basis. From fires, power failures, earthquakes, civil disturbances, floods and every day life in our most populous state, California seems to have every challenge imaginable. As the long-time lead for California’s Office of Emergency Services, Dick Andrews has had to face it all and he’s succeeded. His notable and accomplished record garners deep respect from across the country and around the world and that is just part of the reason his counsel is sought by DHS and FEMA as a member of its respective advisory councils. His leadership amongst the national and international emergency management community has taken him across the globe to examine the range of threats and challenges that are currently unfolding or will be unfolding in the years to come. Andrews has also been one of the leading voices for improved coordination between public sector emergency management agencies and the private sector. As one of the leaders of the National Emergency Managers Association (NEMA) Task Force on the private sector, he has advocated exploring ways in which the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) might be employed to more effectively use private sector resources during major emergencies. He has long recognized and practiced the fact that in emergency management, you can not go it alone. You need a lot of help long the way if you are going to make a difference and his record in California proves it.

Jessica R. Herrera-Flanigan, Partner – Monument Policy Group, former Staff Director & General Counsel, US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security; former Senior Counsel at the Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section, Criminal Division, US Department of Justice
• Homeland security is a tremendously expansive area and there are very few people who actually have the depth and reach to understand, communicate and practice it. Jessica Herrera-Flanigan is one of those people who can. As Staff Director and General Counsel for the US House’s Homeland Security Committee, she had the responsibility of managing the in-box of issues and oversight for everything from infrastructure protection, emergency management, grants and procurement matters, border issues, information sharing and more. If that was not enough she also had to deal with the various politics and egos of the Committee’s Membership while trying to help the Committee gain the respect and recognition of its much more senior Congressional Committee brethren. Jessica was very successful with those charges as well but as a former federal prosecutor working some of the most complex cases and arguing them before a judge and jury (intellectual property and cybercrime) she had an excellent proving ground to hone her skills. In addition to these foundations, her knowledge of infrastructure protection measures, information security/sharing needs and the international dimensions that all of these matters have are also formidable.

Craig Fugate, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management
• California is not the only state to be regularly tested and tormented by Mother Nature. The Sunshine State, Florida is also regularly in the crosshairs for hurricanes, fires, tornadoes and other weather-induced strikes that often upset the balance of life in a State that most Americans associate with sunny beaches and tourism. As the Director of Florida’s Emergency Management efforts, Craig Fugate’s charge is to aid and support the State’s communities and residents for when such events occur but also to help it get back to business as soon as possible. Following the devastating impacts of Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that ravaged significant portions of the State as well as its economy, Florida undertook a full-scale reevaluation of its emergency management procedures and operations. The results of those efforts offered Floridians significant improvements in dealing with disasters and the efforts of Fugate and his team in Florida’s Emergency Management Division have only taken those efforts even further. One of the first states to integrate the private sector into its planning, response and operations, Florida is a national model for readiness and resiliency when responding to events. The words, ‘public-private partnerships’ are not just buzzwords to Fugate and his team; they are a part of their operational practice in Florida emergency management. Florida is also home to one of the most informed, educated and prepared citizenry in the country. While this fact may be enhanced and reinforced by the number of hurricanes and other weather emergencies that the State regularly experiences, Fugate and his team deserve significant credit for engaging, involving and informing its citizenry and its elected leadership of the difference that preparedness makes to its overall response and recovery efforts.

Jonah J. Czerwinski, Managing Consultant, Global Business Services and Senior Fellow Homeland Security, IBM Global Leadership Initiative; Editor – Homeland Security Watch; former Senior Advisor, Homeland Security Projects – Center for the Study of the Presidency; 2007-2008 Senior Fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute of George Washington University
• It’s often easy to dismiss the rantings of posted comments on the Internet as remarks coming from the lunatic fringe but when those remarks come from Jonah Czerwinski and Homeland Security Watch (, it is best to take a moment and read what he has to offer. One of the sharpest, most insightful intellects and thought leaders on homeland security issues, Czerwinski offers his regular readers, as well as those who read his others published works from IBM’s Global Leadership Initiative, the Center for the Study of the Presidency, George Washington University, etc., a deeper appreciation of the complexities and intricacies that each and every homeland issue has as part of its make-up. All too often, commentators and critics, whether they are Members of Congress, media/reporters or the great unwashed blogosphere (yours truly is included in that mix) try to put homeland issues in terms of black and white. The fact is that there is a tremendous amount of gray area on these issues to be explored and considered when rendering a decision. Czerwinski’s work provides those insights and those that regularly read his postings and other offerings are a whole lot smarter as a result. Further evidence of that fact was his May 14, 2008 testimony before the US House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection hearing on the role of private sector and resilience in critical infrastructure protection. It’s hard to find intellect and insight on homeland security issues without an arm-waving agenda attached to it but Czerwinski’s analyses provide it with credibility and integrity intact.

Matthew Bettenhausen, Director, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, State of California; former Deputy Director, DHS’ Office of State and Local Government Coordination; former federal prosecutor, US Department of Justice
• Comedians and the general public have had a field day ever since the former Mr. Universe and action movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger became California’s 38th Governor. Jokes and fake Austrian accents aside, there can be no doubt that the Governor has had his hands full with a toxic budget situation, an unwieldy legislature as well as an almost endless series of emergencies that have impacted wide swaths of the State. As evidenced over the past several years, California seems to have an endless fire season fueled by its dry conditions, constant winds and enough natural fuel (brush and other environmental conditions) to make the blazes almost unstoppable. On top of these circumstances, there are the always constant pressures and threats faced by the State’s critical infrastructures (ports, airports, utilities, hospitals, etc.) from terrorists and every day operations. Helping the ‘Governator’ manage all of these challenges is Matt Bettenhausen, the State’s Homeland Security Director. While California may one of fifty states, it is also one of the world’s largest economies whose importance long transcends its geographic boundaries. As home to the largest port in the US (Los Angeles/Long Beach); one of the world’s busiest airports (LAX); tremendous agricultural resources; and a tourism and commerce center that the citizens of the world engage daily, the complexities in working with these components are enormous. Safeguarding and preserving those resources and working with the multitude of local jurisdictions in public safety, emergency management and more requires a unique skill set of leadership and collaboration – skills Matt Bettenhausen has demonstrated through some of the Golden State’s most significant trials. A stalwart advocate for improved information sharing with state, local and tribal governments, as well as coordination in emergency response efforts where federal resources are involved, Bettenhausen has challenged DHS leaders, programs and policies to be more proactive, than reactive in addressing emerging threats and challenges. As a long-time champion of local leadership in response efforts, Bettenhausen’s voice was one of the loudest and most significant calling for changes to the first publicly released draft of the National Response Framework issued by DHS last year. Because of his voice and the others that joined him, DHS and FEMA constructed an improved Framework which is successfully operating today.

Glenn Cannon, Assistant Administrator for Disaster Operations, FEMA; former Director of Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Emergency Management and Public Safety Departments; former Director/State Fire Marshall for the State of Florida
• One of the people that have helped lead the FEMA turnaround under its current Administrator, David Paulison is Glenn Cannon, Assistant Administrator for Disaster Operations. While there are many parts of FEMA that swing into action whenever an event occurs, FEMA’s Disaster Operations provides the core, coordinated federal operational, and logistical disaster response capabilities needed to save and sustain lives, minimize suffering, and protect property in a timely and effective manner in communities that are overwhelmed by natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other emergencies. Just because it’s the federal government coming to town to try and help save the day does not such coordination is easy; if anything it can be even more challenging. As a former state, regional and city official who has had to deal with federal resources in a range of emergency response operations, Cannon has brought those experiences to his current position and tried to build better relationships and interaction before an emergency ever occurs. The results of his and his team’s efforts have shown great promise. As evidenced by this past hurricane season, the various California fires and other emergencies that FEMA has been called upon to respond since the 2005 Katrina failures, Cannon’s efforts are starting to build capacity, competence and connectivity in areas where they were previously lacking.

Nancy Ward, FEMA’s Region 9 Administrator
• Already identified as the person who will serve as FEMA’s Acting Administrator beginning the afternoon of January 20th (unless President-Elect Obama nominates and has a successor confirmed in time) Nancy Ward, FEMA’s Administrator for Region IX brings a significant portfolio of experience to the table. Recognizing the uniqueness of the forthcoming Presidential Transition (and the threat/attack vulnerabilities that have occurred in other countries), Ward was identified almost a year ago by the FEMA leadership as the person to help the new Administration to take the reigns of the Agency until its team was in place. (Region IX includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia.) As one of three career FEMA Regional Administrators (she’s been in place since 2000), she has been with the Agency when 9/11 occurred; as it made its transition into DHS; through the Katrina nightmare; and through its recent resurgence in additional authority, resources and performance. Additionally, her experiences in dealing with the constant series of fires in California, as well as the flooding, earthquakes and other emergencies that have occurred throughout her Region make her a known and experienced quantity to the states she regularly works with as well as to other emergency managers nationwide. Her experience and insights are already a valuable resource to the Obama Administration’s DHS Transition Team and having her available on the afternoon of January 20th is a big plus too.

BG Michael McDaniel, Assistant Adjutant General – Michigan Homeland Security Advisor, Chair of DHS’ State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council
• Every state’s Homeland Security Advisor plays a unique role in advising the Governor on a range of issues pertinent to the security, resilience and well-being of the state. The role of the State of Michigan’s Homeland Security Advisor, BG Michael McDaniel is a bit more unique than others. While serving as the Governor’s lead for homeland security issues, McDaniel also serves in the National Guard as the State’s Assistant Adjutant General, as well as the Chair of DHS’ State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Government Coordinating Council providing counsel and insight to a range of issues related to planning, preparing and partnering to protect critical infrastructures around the nation. An ardent practitioner of the adage of “how you train is how you fight,” McDaniel has been a strong proponent for exercises (table-top, full-scale, etc.) that bring various parties together to understand their roles, responsibilities and capabilities before an emergency unfolds. He has taken his energies and advocacies to the National Governors Association where he serves on its Homeland Security Advisors Council. While his career has been in a National Guard uniform, he is not immune or unfamiliar to the critical role that the private sector and other organizations (NGOs, educational institutions, etc.) can play in safeguarding and securing communities. His leadership style has invited them in to participate in the planning and operations of Michigan’s homeland interests as well as the various exercises that are held throughout the State several times a year.

A list of names such as I have provided here is never complete. There will always be names to add to it and that is a tremendously good thing. We are fortunate as a nation to have an enormity of talented individuals who are willing to step forward to serve in extremely challenging and almost always thankless jobs. Their service, like those that they work with that serve in other DHS positions should never be taken for granted. Unfortunately such service often is taken for granted and whomever the Obama Administration selects for the other tough jobs at DHS will find undoubtedly themselves ridiculed, maligned, mocked and mistreated by the media, elected officials, the blogosphere, their neighbors and most certainly general public. History has unfortunately revealed that it’s just part of the mix when you take a high pressure position such as those about to be filled.

While feelings of frustration and angst are almost assured when you take a high profile tough job such as those at DHS, I also know that the persons selected by the new Administration will find themselves with some of the most rewarding personal and professional experiences and relationships that they can not yet begin to imagine.

At the outset of their service, we owe each of them, whoever they are, a deep and sincere thank you and a pledge of patience and support. The jobs they take serve the homeland interests of the American public and there is tremendous honor and privilege in such service. With a new Administration at hand, we should all resolve to be more grateful for what these persons and others like them do to keep our homeland’s peace and prosperity secure. Everyone one of them represents the ideals of our nation’s founders and such, we are all in very good hands.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More